For Princeton undergraduate students, who plan to pursue the Undergraduate Certificate in Finance (UCF), it is wise to plan your course selection in advance, even from the Freshman year onwards. This will give you more flexibility in the later semesters. Certain courses are prerequisites and should be taken early on.

Elective courses can be selected either according to individual needs and preferences, or to confirm to one of the seven suggested tracks, listed below.  The tracks are intended to be illustrative of coherence courses of study that students might choose.  It is not necessary for a student to designate or complete a particular track to satisfy the certificate requirements. Here is a suggested course sequence: 

Freshman Year

ECO100, ECO101, MAT103,  MAT104 (or the two semester version if your SAT test scores indicate insufficient preparation for MAT103)

Sophomore Year

ECO202 (or equivalent such as ORF245). ECO300 OR ECO310 (can be taken in Fall along with ECO362), MAT175 (or the more advanced yearlong sequences during sophomore year MAT201/202 or MAT203/204)

Junior Year

ECO362 and 1 elective, ECO363 and 1 elective

Senior Year

1-2 electives each term, senior thesis/independent project

Courses and Independent Work

  • First, there are prerequisites in mathematics, economics, and probability and statistics, as necessary for the study of finance at a sophisticated level. Advance planning is essential as these courses should ideally be completed prior to the junior year.
  • Second, two required core courses ECO362 and ECO363 provide an integrated overview and background in modern finance.
  • Third, students are required to take three elective courses. The three elective courses must be selected as follows:
    • ECO and ORF majors must take at least 2 of the 3 elective courses from List 1.
    • Other concentrators must take at least 1 of the 3 elective courses from List 1.
    • Students can petition the Director of Undergraduate Studies if they wish to have a specific course considered as part of List 1 or 2, including course(s) completed while studying abroad.
  • Fourth, a significant piece of independent work must relate to issues or methods of finance. This takes the form of a junior or senior paper or a chapter in your senior thesis

Grade Requirements

  • All courses used to satisfy the certificate requirements require a letter grade (p/d/f not allowed). Note that a previous p/d/f election for a course can be rescinded to a letter grade, only at the time the student enrolls in the program. Policy on Rescinding a P/D/F
  • An average of C+ or above across the 2 core and 3 elective courses.

Spring 2020 Requirements

In light of the exceptional circumstances during the Spring 2020 semester, the requirements for the certificate in finance are amended as follows:

A course completed with a grade of P in Spring 2020 (whether by student’s individual PDF election or by faculty mandatory decision for the course) will receive credit toward completion of the certificate requirements. This applies to prerequisite courses, the core course ECO363, and all List 1 and List 2 electives this term. It does not apply to courses completed in different terms.

For Spring 2020 independent work, completed in the form of a chapter of your senior thesis or junior paper in the student’s department, any passing grade including P assigned by the department will fulfill the IW requirement. For students who fulfill the IW requirement by writing a separate finance paper, the grading will be PDF.

For students in the Class of 2020 only, the requirement to earn an average of C+ or above across the 2 core and 3 elective courses is waived.
For ECO and ORF students who complete ECO363 in Spring 2020, the requirement to earn an average of C+ or above across the 2 core courses is waived.

Mathematical Finance Track

Students in this track study the mathematics of financial price theory, including stochastic calculus and its applications to arbitrage and equilibrium in dynamic economies.  Relevant courses in this area include

ECO317, ECO414, ECO465, ECO466, MAT305, ORF309, ORF311, ORF515

Corporate Finance Track

Students in this track study issues such as the choice and financing of investment projects, firms’ determination of divided policy, optimal capital structure, financial reorganization, mergers and acquisitions, and the management and regulation of bank and other financial institutions.  Relevant courses include:

ECO317, ECO322, ECO342, ECO361, ECO464, ELE491

Derivatives Pricing and Risk Management Track

Students in this track focus on the determination of the prices of options, futures and other derivative securities, and on the management of their risks. Relevant courses include:

APC350, ECO312, ECO463, ECO465, ECO466, ECO491, ORF309, ORF335, ORF405, ORF435, ORF474, ORF515

Investment Management Track

Students in this track study the design and functioning of asset markets around the world, the theory of optimal portfolios, the behavior and determinants of asset returns, and techniques of portfolio management. Relevant courses include:

ECO311, ECO342, ECO353, ECO461, ECO462, ECO463, ECO464, ECO465, ECO466, ECO492, ECO493, MAT305, ORF307, ORF311, ORF405, ORF435, SPI340

Information Technologies for Finance Track

Students in this track study the computer-based technologies that are becoming increasingly important in finance, such as the design of efficient trading systems, algorithms, interfaces and large databases and the security of computer networks. Relevant courses include:

COS318, COS333, COS423, COS432, COS436, COS461, ECO461, MAT305

Behavioral Finance

Students in this track study how human psychology, including many documented behavioral biases, influence financial decision-making and ultimately asset prices. Relevant courses include:

ECO462, ECO467, ECO468, SPI340

Finance and Public Policy

Students in this track study the interaction between finance and policy, including public finance, response to financial crisis, Central banking, and securities law. Relevant courses include:

ECO361, ECO491, ECO492, ECO493, SPI340, SPI466, SPI582f

The two core courses are ECO 362 and ECO 363. Certificate students are not permitted to substitute another course for the Core Courses from Princeton or any other institution

Fall Course

ECO 362 – Financial Investments

This course surveys the field of investments with special emphasis on the valuation of financial assets. Issues studied include how portfolios of assets should be formed, how to measure and control risk, how to evaluate investment performance and how to test alternative investment strategies and asset pricing models.

Spring Course

ECO 363 – Corporate Finance and Financial Institutions

This course investigates the financing decisions of companies and financial institutions in the wider context of the workings of financial markets. Topics include capital budgeting, capital structure choice, risk management, liquidity, corporate governance, and the interactions between corporate finance and the workings of financial institutions and markets.

In addition to the two core courses of the certificate, students must complete three courses (all requiring a letter grade, pass/fail not allowed) chosen from the two lists below. Courses not listed in the pre-approved lists here but which form part of a coherent program of study in finance, and which are approved in advance by the Director of Undergraduate Studies may be used to fulfill the electives requirement. Courses must be at the level 300 or higher. Requests must be made by email to the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Please check this page for updates regarding new courses eligible as elective courses for the certificate or removals of previously-listed courses from the eligibility list. Not all courses may be offered every year. Please check with the relevant departments to confirm their offerings in any given year.

When you select your elective courses, keep in mind that:

  • ECO and ORF students must take at least 2 of their 3 elective courses from List 1.
  • Other concentrators must take at least 1 of their 3 elective courses from List 1.

List 1 – Financial Applications

ECO 315: Topics in Macroeconomics
ECO 325: Organization and Design of Markets
ECO 342: Money and Banking
ECO 344: Macroeconomic Policy
ECO 353: International Monetary Economics
ECO 361: Financial Accounting
ECO 416: Fintech
ECO 461: Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Venture Capital
ECO 462: Portfolio Theory and Asset Management
ECO 463: International Financial Markets
ECO 464: Corporate Restructuring
ECO 465: Options, Futures, and Financial Derivatives
ECO 466: Fixed Income: Models and Applications
ECO 467: Institutional Finance: Trading and Markets
ECO 468: Behavioral Finance
ECO 469: Valuation and Security Analysis
ECO 491: Cases in Financial Risk Management
ECO 492: Asian Capital Markets
ECO 493: Financial Crisis
ECO 494: Chinese Financial and Monetary Systems
EGR 395: Venture Capital and Finance of Innovation
EGR 475: Building and Operating Complex and Regulated Ventures
EGR 491: High-Tech Entrepreneurship
ORF 335: Introduction to Financial Mathematics
ORF 435: Financial Risk Management
ORF 474: Special Topics in Operations Research and Financial Engineering
SPI 466: Financial History
SPI 524: Advanced Macroeconomics
SPI 582f: House of Debt: Understanding Macro & Financial Policy

List 2 – Methodology for Finance

APC 350: Introduction to Differential Equations
CEE 460: Risk Assessment and Management
COS 318: Operating Systems
COS 324: Introduction to Machine Learning
COS 333: Advanced Programming Techniques
COS 423: Theory of Algorithms
COS 424: Fundamentals of Machine Learning
COS 432: Information Security
COS 436: Human-Computer Interface Technology
COS 445: Economics and Computing
COS 461: Computer Networks
ECO 311: Macroeconomics: A Mathematical Approach
ECO 312: Econometrics: A Mathematical Approach
ECO 313: Econometric Applications
ECO 317: The Economics of Uncertainty
ECO 322: Econometric Tools for Research in Microeconomics
ECO 365: Introduction to Empirical Methodology in Finance
ECO 414: Introduction to Economic Dynamics
ECO 418: Strategy and Information
ECO 488: Applied Game Theory
ELE 364: Machine Learning for Predictive Data Analytics
ELE 435: Machine Learning and Pattern Recognition
MAE 305: Mathematics in Engineering I
MAE 306: Mathematics in Engineering II
MAT 325: Analysis I: Fournier Series and Partial Differential Equations
MAT 330: Complex Analysis with Applications
MAT 335: Analysis II: Complex Analysis
MAT 385: Probability Theory
MAT 486: Random Processes
ORF 307: Optimization
ORF 309: Probability and Stochastic Systems
ORF 311: Optimization under Uncertainty
ORF 350: Analysis of Big Data
ORF 363: Computing and Optimization for the Physical and Social Sciences
ORF 401: Electric Commerce
ORF 405: Regression and Applied Time Series
ORF 409: Introduction to Monte Carlo Simulation
ORF 455: Energy and Commodities Markets
SPI 340: Psychology of Decision Making

  • All Certificate students are required to submit either an independent finance paper or incorporate finance into (at least a chapter of) their senior thesis written under the supervision of the faculty member advising them in their department. We also accept a junior paper written in the student’s department that contains significant finance content. If neither option is feasible, the Director of Undergraduate Studies will assign a Master in Finance student during the Spring semester of your senior year to serve as your advisor on a separate independent paper. Independent papers should be at least 15 page long.
  • You may use the same independent work to fulfill the finance certificate independent work requirement plus one other (your department’s requirement, or a different certificate’s requirement), but not more than one other.
  • Your independent work must deal with issues or use methods drawn from the field of finance in order to fulfill the finance certificate requirement. Independent work advisors who are uncertain about whether the finance requirement will be satisfied are encouraged to ask the Director of Undergraduate Studies for an opinion.
  • There is a wide range of possible topics that could satisfy both the finance certificate and a department. Some examples: in Art and Archaeology, art prices as reflections of changing cultural and aesthetic tastes; in Civil and Environmental Engineering, the financial feasibility of wind farms; in English, literary portrayals of the social effects of economic depression; in History, the history of the Japanese stock exchange; in Music, the funding of 18th century composers; in Politics, the changing character of securities regulation; in Psychology, any topic in behavioral finance.
  • Deadlines for turning in an electronic copy of your independent work to the Certificate in Finance Undergraduate Administrator, along with a one paragraph summary of the finance content of your work, and the name of the advisor for your thesis or paper:
    • Senior Thesis deadline is the same deadline as for your department
    • Independent Paper deadline is Dean’s Date for Spring term
How many students have earned the certificate?2020-08-13T16:38:22-04:00

You can see the certificate remains the most popular on campus with the largest number of students enrolled. The number of certificates awarded is very similar each year since its inception in 2000. Here are the past 5 year’s numbers:
2015 – 82
2016 – 94
2017 – 74
2018 – 80
2019 – 77

Is there a ceremony for the Certificate in Finance recipients at graduation?2020-08-13T16:40:12-04:00

We have a small celebration for students who have earned the Finance Certificate. Actual certificates are issued directly to you by the University Registrar.

Is there a final GPA that I must meet to earn the certificate?2020-06-25T12:05:51-04:00

Yes there is. All students must have earned a minimum of C+ [2.30] averaged out over the 2 Core courses and the 3 Elective courses.

Do you accept junior papers to satisfy the independent work requirement? Can the same independent work be used to satisfy multiple departmental and/or certificate requirements?2020-02-19T15:47:04-05:00

You may use the same independent work, including junior papers, to fulfill the finance certificate independent work requirement plus one other (your department’s requirement, or a different certificate’s requirement), but not more than one other.

Does the topic of my independent work need to be pre-approved?2020-02-19T15:53:21-05:00

Refer to the sample topics from previous years provided above, under Independent Work. You should discuss your choice of topic with your independent work advisor. You do not need pre-approval of your topic from Director of Undergraduate Studies as long as it is a finance topic.

Can I PDF a course?2020-08-13T16:35:11-04:00

All courses must be taken for a letter grade.  However, if you take MAT201/202 or higher, the second of the Math courses can be taken as a PDF as long as your other grade is strong.  You must advise us of your decision to do so at the time of application in the Additional information section.  Additionally, if you have taken a course for P/D/F that you want to use, you can ask for the P/D/F can be rescinded, see the policy in the  Undergraduate Announcement under Grading in the Policies tab. A grade of P in place of a letter grade can be used to satisfy the admission requirements, or the certificate core or elective courses, for courses taken during the spring 2020 semester only.

Can UCF students take 500 level FIN, ORF or ECO courses?2020-02-19T15:56:45-05:00

In general, students with an exceptional academic record will be allowed, with the permission of the UCF Director of Undergraduate Studies, to take a 500 level course to satisfy part of their elective requirements.

I would like to study abroad during my junior year. Can I fulfill the core course requirement (ECO362/363) by taking equivalent courses at a foreign institution?2020-02-19T15:55:12-05:00

The two core courses must be completed at Princeton. Students are permitted to use course(s) completed abroad to fulfill a maximum of one of their three elective courses.  You should consult with the UCF Director of Undergraduate Studies about the course(s) you wish to take abroad for UCF credit. Provide as much information as you can about your proposed course(s) abroad, including at a minimum a course description and syllabus. We approve courses taken elsewhere only if they are of comparable standards and taken at comparable institutions.


Can I take a course over the summer at another institution?2020-02-19T15:55:05-05:00

In general, yes, subject to the same conditions as for study abroad courses in the question above . You must get approval from the Dean of the College, from your department Director of Undergraduate Studies and from the UCF Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Can I take ECO300 and ECO310 at the same time as ECO362?2020-02-19T15:54:55-05:00

Yes, you may take them at the same time in the fall of your junior year.  However, admission is provisional until completion of all prerequisites including ECO300 and ECO310

Do I have to take ECO300 or ECO310 for a letter grade? I took it as a PDF before I enrolled in the UCF program2020-02-19T15:54:49-05:00

All courses used to satisfy the certificate requirements require a letter grade (p/d/f not allowed). Note that a previous p/d/f election for a course can be rescinded to a letter grade, only at the time the student enrolls in the program.  Policy on Rescinding a P/D/F

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